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Yom ha-Shoah

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Legislation usually makes for dull reading. But on rare occasions, our laws read like poetry.  Such is the case with Canada’s 2003 Holocaust Memorial Day Act, which creates an annual day of reflection on the Holocaust. One of the exhibits in the Museum’s Breaking the Silence gallery explores this official recognition, and the ongoing need to continue to break the silence about large-scale human rights violations. This year, Holocaust Memorial Day – or Yom ha-Shoah – begins on the evening of April 15 and continues to the evening of April 16. For a moment, forget this is a federal statute and consider these lines taken directly from the Act as poetry, an expression of human feeling through words: 

WHEREAS
the Holocaust refers to a 
specific event 
in history namely
the deliberate 
and planned 
state-sponsored 
persecution 
and annihilation 
of European Jewry 
by the Nazis 
and their collaborators 
between 1933 and 1945

WHEREAS 
six million Jewish men
women 
and children 
perished 
under this policy of 
hatred and genocide

WHEREAS 
millions of others 
were victims of that policy because of their 
physical or mental disabilities
race
religion or 
sexual orientation

WHEREAS 
the terrible destruction 
and pain 
of the Holocaust 
must never be forgotten

AND WHEREAS 
Yom ha-Shoah 
or the Day of the Holocaust
is an opportune day 
to reflect on 
and educate about 
the enduring lessons of the Holocaust 
and to reaffirm 
a commitment to uphold 
human rights

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